August 31, 2004

ELECTION

"It's an election year, and America stands at a crossroads." Thus begins CavX's great new post.

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EUREKA

This will take about 10 seconds, but the eureka moment will be worth it. (Make sure you click on the green headline.)

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MY KIND OF MAN

I hear Rudy Giuliani was a hit. I can't watch the RNC here, so I have to read it, and I like what I read. And you know what else I like? I like having a president who's uncomfortable with the Queen of England and completely at home with a crew of construction workers. But maybe that's just me.

MORE TO GROK:

Thanks, NightHawk. It was even better to watch than to read.

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August 30, 2004

PEER REVIEW

Deskmerc explains the importance of peer review in an excellent post.

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THERE'S A WAR ON

Steyn says the same thing that I told my friend when we discussed stem cell research:

But [Bush at the RNC] will talk up successes in the war and remind us that, if we don't win it, the best prescription-drugs plan in the world isn't going to make much difference.

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NASTY

You know, I've seen some pretty hateful stuff in my years of being glued to the blogosphere, but oh...my...god.

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CLOAK

VDH's newest contains a really nice quote from Thucydides:

For there is justice in the claim that steadfastness in his country's battles should be as a cloak to cover a man's other imperfections; since the good action has blotted out the bad, and his merit as a citizen more than outweighed his demerits as an individual.

Unfortunately, there are many here who work and live on post who look down their noses at our Soldiers. However, I often agree with Thucydides: a Soldier's service, if it is noble, trumps his faults. Among the students I've had in my classes, there have been several who have been in and out of jail, who were in dangerous gangs, and who previously just generally didn't contribute much to society. In any other circumstances, I can't imagine how I would have ever come to associate with people of that background. But selfless service can cloak a myriad of imperfections. He may have been a dumb kid who landed himself in jail, but now he's a dedicated leader who's aiming for an E-7. He may have been a dangerous gangbanger, but now he's found religion and a life of responsibility as a father and husband. He may have been a drug-dealing punk who joined because the courts forced him, but now he's thinking of making a career of it. For me, the minute they put on that uniform -- as long as they live by the values it represents -- they have earned respect and dignity, despite their individual flaws.

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August 29, 2004

NAP

The commander sent a CD home that contained several hundred photos of my husband's company. This one is my favorite. I can't even tell who this is, but there's something about it that I find quite touching. I don't know how to put it into words; it just chokes me up to see this napping hero.

sleep.jpg

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IRAN

When I read the book Alas, Babylon two years ago, I could hardly put it down. It's the story of the aftermath of nuclear war and how the remaining people struggled to survive. I've been thinking a lot about it lately as I've been following Iran's nuclear progress over at LGF. The thing is, a series of articles showing Iran getting closer and closer seems to have little impact on anyone, but picture it as a narrative or a movie, and it starts to seem important. Picture ominous build-up music and scenes of putting the final touches on while the protagonist races to get there in time. That's what I fear we're facing, though the boring articles describing the scenario really play down the urgency. But Alas, Babylon is never far from my mind.

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BEST

I don't have the patience to go look it up, but a long time ago I wondered if we'd all still be blogging in ten years. I wondered if the fad would die or people would get burned out. I thought we might all hit a point where we just lost interest, but I never wanted to see it happen to The Best.

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August 28, 2004

GRAMMAR

Revelation: teaching something that's second nature is very hard.

This weekend I'm teaching a seminar called Grammar Review. Grammar is no big problem for me. I hardly ever have to stop to think about the rules. I generally can identify compound-complex sentences, comma splices, and subordinating conjunctions with ease, so that makes it really hard to teach it to someone who struggles. In planning for my class today, I allotted like 30 minutes for things that took us over an hour to actually accomplish because I completely misjudged how much time it would take people to catch on. And I think they all hate me and that the final exam I wrote is going to kick their butts. Whoops. Trial and error, I guess; it's the first time I've taught this class.

They're getting it, slowly, but we need eight weeks instead of two days.

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August 27, 2004

OVERLAP

I've only taken two days of statistics so far, Stephen, so I can't explain this polling overlap either. It is pretty funny though.

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GRADES

Long-time readers will know that nothing gets my blood boiling like some snotty intellectual calling average Americans stupid. They frequently do it to our servicemembers, which really ticks me off. And they do it all the time to our President. Nothing makes me madder than the audacity of a statement like this:

Does anyone in America doubt that Kerry has a higher IQ than Bush? I'm sure their SATs and college transcripts would put Kerry far ahead.

OK, well we all know President Bush's grades, since "Bush is dumb" is like sooo 2000. What are Kerry's grades, then? Can't Howell Raines find them and make a factual statement instead of resorting to bandwagon techniques?

I don't know what happens behind closed White House doors. I don't really care who's pulling most of the weight, be it Bush or Cheney or Rice. As a team, they're getting the job done. But, having absolutely no facts at my disposal, I'm not sure I want to poke at President Bush's IQ. What does IQ measure? Little picture games and mind puzzles and making connections and so on. I think President Bush might do quite well on a test of this nature.

Smarts isn't about memorizing and regurgitating, which is what the SAT and grades are about. Hell, I'm freaking awesome at that. I can play the school game like nobody's business, which is how you end up valedictorian and summa cum laude. But I'm slowly learning that playing school and playing life are completely different things.

Last night I had my second stats class. We learned variance and standard deviation, long formulas involving sigmas and x-bars and things that give most math-fearing people (the majority of the class) the heebie-jeebies. But I got the formulas right away. I figured out how to do the functions on the calculator right away. But then when I raised my hand and asked for how it applies to the real world, I could hear the panic in people's gasps. It's bad enough we have to plug in the frequency and take square roots, for chrissake, who cares what it all means! But I cared. I'm not taking stats just to finish a degree; I'm taking it because I want to know how it applies to the real world. And I could easily see how to plug in all the data, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out the relationship between the answer we got (18.2 cents) and the real problem (increase cigarette taxes in 27 states).

It's very humbling to realize you can't figure it out unless the teacher shows you how.

I've realized that I've an overabundance of capability, but no real ability to decipher relationships on my own. Give me formulas, give me numbers, and I'll give you all the answers, but ask me what it means and I'll stutter. And I get A's and had a relatively high SAT score. (I'm getting better at it through blogging, but I'm still stunned by the likes of Den Beste, Bunker, and CavX. I'll never get to that level.)

President Bush, and whoever else is working behind closed doors with him, can see the big picture. I don't care if he can plug the numbers into the calculator himself or if Cheney does it for him, as long as he continues to get 'er done. What indication do we have that Kerry sees the big picture? He obviously can't even make the mental relationship that voting for war and against funding makes you look like a jackass.

Look, I just don't like to call anyone stupid. I especially don't like it when Howell Raines -- who presumably thought Jayson Blair was pretty smart -- points his finger at the President. There's much more to smarts than grades in college; I'd say, to quote CavX, that

spending the last three years destroying terrorist training camps, breaking up terror cells in the US and abroad, uncovering a multinational nuclear proliferation ring, forcing belligerent North Korea to the bargaining table, cowing Libya into giving up its WMD programs and terrorist support, and winning two wars against terrorist-supporting Islamofascist dictatorships in the process

makes the President look pretty smart to me.

MORE TO GROK:

Instapundit says pretty much the same thing I said.

And Ann Althouse:

In any case, my questions about Kerry's intelligence do not arise solely from my inference that he had a poor academic record and low standardized test scores. My questions are also based on his exasperatingly convoluted and unclear manner of speaking. This has been excused as a propensity for "nuance" and "complexity," but could also be caused by a lack of mental capacity. It could also be willful evasion. I'd really like to know.

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August 26, 2004

SNIPER

I have half-assedly followed Kim du Toit's donations to snipers SGT Walter and SPC Adam for a while now. The other day he posted a photo of them, and if it ain't the jawdropping-est thing I've ever seen, I don't know what is. Then tonight I found the Adopt A Sniper website via The Patriette, and I got to thinking. So I split my money and donated a little bit to Kim's two snipers and a little bit to some anonymous snipers.

Is it weird that the word "sniper" is a turn-on?

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OPTIMIST

Could it be true? Could John Kerry "go down in history as the man who made Dukakis look good"? I'd like to hope so...

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FALLEN

I've written before about parents of fallen Soldiers who don't support the mission. I think it's very sad. But today, through Sgt Hook, I was moved to tears by a parent who does support his fallen son, in a very noble and selfless way.

Hook wrote about a memorial service he attended in Afghanistan; the Soldier's father reads Hook's blog, heretofore unbeknownst to Hook. I can't read SGT Daniel Galvan's father's message without feeling a jumble of pride, sadness, and loyalty:

Hook,

I do not mind at all your posting my email on your blog. Your words and thoughts are greatly appreciated as is your blog appreciated as a way to pay tribute to our soldiers. If you would pass on my thanks to Daniel’s First Sergeant for the conduct of his memorial. I have only gotten second hand reports through my daughter-in-law but what I have heard it was a moving experience for my son’s fellow soldiers in attendance.

If I may be so bold, I charge Daniel’s Division with completing the duty we have to make sure that the lowlifes that hit us on our homeland on 911 are brought to justice. You can pass the word to Daniel’s fellow soldiers that his Dad is proud of him and of all who wear the uniform, I will pray daily for all and that we bring this action to a fitting and just conclusion in a timely manner; I can think of no better tribute to Daniel that that.

In closing let me say that Daniel loved the Army, flying, his family, his parents and above all he loved the USA. I used to say that my heart pumped OD blood (half in jest) but I believe that Daniel’s heart did.

Blas E. Galvan

Mr. Galvan, I promise to do my part here on the homefront to make sure your son's sacrifice is never forgotten. And I'll put in a request to the Dukes of 1 ID 3rd Brigade to help get the lowlifes.

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LINKS

OK, there are a lot of things out there that I think you guys should be reading, but I'm too drained to write anything about them. So just take my word for it and go read this and this and this and this and this. And this, about how pro-wrestling is political. I have homework to do.

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WOW

Here's the forgotten story of seven U.S. airmen killed by a mob in Rüsselsheim, Germany, during World War II.

And here's the developing story of a sniper.

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MILITARY SPOUSES

LT A's wife forwarded me this. She also wrote to say that LT A is having complications, so please keep him in your thoughts.

Military Spouses - There's a Difference

by Col Steven Arrington
Nellis Air Force Base

Over the years, I've talked a lot about military spouses ... how special they are and the price they pay for freedom too. The funny thing about it, is most military spouses don't consider themselves different from other spouses. They do what they have to do, bound together not by blood or merely friendship, but with a shared spirit whose origin is in the very essence of what love truly is. Is there truly a difference? I think there is. You have to decide for yourself.

Other spouses get married and look forward to building equity in a home and putting down family roots. Military spouses get married and know they'll live in base housing or rent, and their roots must be short so they can be transplanted frequently.

Other spouses decorate a home with flair and personality that will last a lifetime. Military spouses decorate a home with flare tempered with the knowledge that no two base houses have the same size windows or same size rooms. Curtains have to be flexible and multiple sets are a plus. Furniture must fit like puzzle pieces!

Other spouses have living rooms that are immaculate and seldom used. Military spouses have immaculate living room/dining room combos. The coffee table got a scratch or two moving from Germany, but it sill looks pretty good.

Other spouses say goodbye to their spouse for a business trip and know they won't see them for a week. They are lonely, but can survive. Military spouses say good-bye to their deploying spouse and know they won't see them for months, or for a remote, a year. They are lonely, but will survive.

Other spouses get used to saying 'hello' to friends they see all the time. Military spouses get used to saying 'good-bye' to friends made the last two years.

Other spouses worry about whether their child will be class president next year. Military spouses worry about whether their child will be accepted in yet another new school next year and whether that school will be the worst in the city again.

Other spouses can count on spouse participation in special events such as birthdays, anniversaries, concerts, football games, graduation, and even the birth of a child. Military spouses only count on each other; because they realize that the Flag has to come first if freedom is to survive. It has to be that way.

Other spouses put up yellow ribbons when the troops are imperiled across the globe and take them down when the troops come home. Military spouses wear yellow ribbons on their hearts and they never go away.

Other spouses worry about being late for Mom's Thanksgiving dinner. Military spouses worry about getting back from Japan in time for Dad's funeral.

And other spouses are touched by the television program showing an elderly lady putting a card down in front of a long, black wall that has names on it. The card simply says "Happy Birthday, Sweetheart. You would have been sixty today." A military spouse is the lady with the card. And the wall is the Vietnam memorial.

I would never say military spouses are better or worse than other spouses are. But I will say there is a difference. Our country asks more of military spouses than is asked of other spouses. Military spouses pay just as high a price for freedom as do their active duty husbands or wives. Perhaps the price they pay is even higher. Dying in service to our country isn't near as hard as loving someone who has died in service to our country, and having to live without them!

God bless our military spouses for all they freely give!

I like that: "the Flag has to come first if freedom is to survive." I'm proud to be lumped together with other military spouses.

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August 25, 2004

DENZEL

Man, I wish I could've seen this exchange between Katie Couric and Denzel Washington. Thank heavens for brave celebrities...

(emailed to me by Tim)

MORE TO GROK:

I went and bought Courage Under Fire online, just because of Denzel. And also because that's the movie that made me know I wanted to be a military wife. After we watched it in ROTC class, I walked home from class all full of pride and love for my then-boyfriend's service. And I got back to his room to find he'd smashed a ukulele to splinters because a class he needed to graduate filled before he could register and therefore he would have to give up his slot in Air Assault School and take the business class in summer school.

As I calmed him down, I knew then that he was the man for me. I told him that as long as he beat up musical instruments instead of me, I'd stand by him through anything.

True story.

MORE:

Well, that's weird. Reader Matt found it on Snopes, and the account is MIGHTY different. I always check the validity of email forwards, but I don't snope out websites (though on a second glance, I should have if I'd read the parenthetical statement more thoroughly). Sigh. Oh well...it's still a good movie.

Hilarious that Meryl Streep said that money is bad though.

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